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Community action to prevent litter and flytipping

The national litter strategy recognises the value of empowering communities to raise awareness of litter and fly-tipping prevention to improve local environmental quality. 

Scotland’s national litter strategy, ‘Towards a Litter-free Scotland’ is focused on the prevention of litter and fly-tipping. It aims to encourage personal responsibility and reduce the need for expensive clean up and enforcement.

Clean ups are the most widespread of community efforts to tackle litter. Community clean ups bring people together to tackle litter and other environmental issues within their own neighbourhoods – something that our previous research has indicated is of particular concern. But while they have many positive outcomes, there is growing recognition of the need for community interventions to put a firmer emphasis on tackling the problem at source by preventing litter being dropped in the first place.

To investigate the potential for community led litter prevention, we commissioned research into which community level activities can best be developed and supported for maximum preventative impact.

The research reveals those approaches that have the most potential for preventing littering. These have been grouped into five options in the research findings, and for discussing future community level litter prevention.

The options can be combined or used in succession. They are, in no particular order:

  • Litter Pick Plus to support clean ups which aim to maximise the litter prevention impacts
  • Community campaigns to raise awareness of local litter and encourage behaviour change
  • Monitoring and citizen science to involve communities in carrying out data collection and using a range of monitoring techniques to inform interventions
  • Incentives to motivate local communities, such as access to social activities or opportunities to learn new skills
  • Wider community approaches, including:
  • Community green space and street improvements - re-purposing sites for community use as green spaces
  • Wider community building - to develop a sense of civic pride leading to litter prevention effects

Practical applications

We are funding work to develop these approaches further with a range of community organisations. Learnings from the projects will be used to inform the development of resources to help communities design and deliver future litter prevention projects, allowing them to take effective action at a local level.

We also fund Keep Scotland Beautiful’s Clean Up Scotland Campaign. As part of this, Keep Scotland Beautiful has produced a ‘Litter Pick Plus toolkit’ which takes forward some of the recommendations of the Community Options Paper. 

We have also developed a communications toolkit which provides a range of targeted messaging and materials, free of charge, for use in a range of settings, including at neighbourhood level. 

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